Twitter is a complex tool with many intricacies.
This Old House is a classic. Is there anything more timeless than watching a master craftsman using a tool as if it were a natural extension of his or her arm and making a home improvement project look easy?
There is a segment of the show called What Is It? where the cast challenges the viewers to identify an uncommon tool that viewers dig up at yard sales and hardware stores. The crew eventually solves the mystery by explaining what the tool is and how it’s used.
There is a marketing tool in today’s world that has stumped the construction industry. It’s called Twitter. In this episode, we will demystify this social media platform and lay down a foundation for using this powerful tool to build your firm’s reputation and generate leads.
What Is Twitter?
Twitter is a business-oriented social media platform, as opposed to the more informal Facebook. Twitter is defined as a “micro-blog.” Think of it as a way to send out short targeted statements to enforce a message.
Do I Need Twitter?
So how do you know if Twitter is a worthwhile investment for your firm? The reality is that your doors will remain open even if you ignore Twitter.
Here are some helpful questions to ask…
• Do you want to establish a dominant position in your area of expertise?
• Do you have the time and patience to build a following that can produce new business?
• Do you want to differentiate from the competition?
• Are you looking to attract talent?
• Do you want to remain relevant in the Digital Age?
• Are you building a company for the long-term that will appeal to the younger generation?
How Can I Use It?
Of the small percentage of the construction industry represented on Twitter, a portion are either misusing or not maximizing their presence. Let us establish some helpful ground rules for those that want to develop a presence on Twitter.
1. Build a Strong Profile — You need a brief, hard-hitting description of what your firm’s offerings. Use hashtags for important words. If you’re a concrete supplier for example, you might use #concrete. You can also add a link to your Web site, which will help to generate Web site traffic. Make it a point to use an image, preferably your logo, for your profile photo. You will need a banner image. If you don’t have an appropriate, high-quality image, select one of your brand colors.
2. Is Anyone Home? — Too many firms create a profile and vanish. If you can’t commit to posting at least once per day, don’t waste your time. Folks that visit your profile will deem your profile abandoned and disregard you.
3. Develop a Strategy —What do you hope to accomplish by using Twitter? Build your efforts and content around that question. What content will you post and how often? Who will you follow and why? How will you measure results?
4. Demystifying Hashtags — The term “hashtag” is widely misunderstood in the construction industry. Many of us recognize this symbol as the number, or pound sign. Hashtags are used on Twitter to find and attract people with common interests. Incorporating hashtags into one or two important words in your post or profile can get it noticed by prospective clients.
5. What Do I Post? — Stay focused on your expertise. If you build age-restricted facilities, stay within that niche. Diversify your content to keep it interesting, ranging from articles on your firm, photos, links to outside articles of interest, and even questions for your followers. Allow yourself to be creative. Watch for the content that resonates with your followers and replicate those posts. Your approach should be roughly 80 percent helpful and 20 percent promotional.
6. Frequency and Brevity — You have 140 characters so make your point succinctly and clearly. You should be posting from one to 10 times per day to maximize engagement.
7. Drawing Traffic to Your Web site — Directing traffic to your Web site should always be a priority. Find creative ways to do that without coming off like a car salesman. Direct folks to a blog post, news release, or new section, for example.
8. Engage Your Audience — You will improve your results by engaging others instead of strictly broadcasting your content. It is called social media, after all. You can retweet, favorite, or even call someone out with the @ symbol, i.e. @BobtheBuilder.
Twitter is a complex tool with many intricacies. This article has highlighted some of the most critical elements to begin using this marketing tool. It’s no different than any other tool you use. Continue utilizing it and eventually you will become a master craftsperson. More importantly, you will never have to ask the question, “What Is It?”
(Brian M. Fraley is the founder, manager, and chief strategist for Fraley AEC Solutions LLC, a marketing communications firm that builds solutions on a foundation of industry understanding for the design and construction marketplace. He also authored the eBook, "Designing an A/E Brand that Drives Selections." Brian can be found on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, or at the firm’s AEC Straight Talker Blog.)